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They went to see Sonia, not hear her

Ehtasham Khan in Ranchi | February 11, 2005 20:15 IST

On Friday Congress president Sonia Gandhi proved once again her crowd-pulling ability.

At an election rally at Shaheed Grounds in Ranchi, which will go to polls on February 15 in the second phase of the assembly election in Jharkhand, a mammoth crowd -- some people put the figure at 100,000 -- came to hear the Congress chief speak for about 10 minutes.

Many of them were not very interested in what she said; they just wanted to see Gandhi, who was on a makeshift podium about 100 meters away from the front row.

In fact, when she started speaking many of them started leaving.

People from the front rows made space for those standing at the back.

Gandhi, in a maroon sari, criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party government. Though the BJP got the opportunity to form the first government of Jharkhand in 2000, it failed to realise the dreams of the people, she said.

But this hardly made an impact on the audience.

The only time that the people clapped was when Gandhi spoke of reviving the Heavy Engineering Corporation in Ranchi -- the government was planning to sell it before a public unrest forced it to change its stand.

"I have come here to see her. She has sacrificed so much for the country. She is not like other politicians," said Ruby Lakda, a tribal woman who was with many of her neighbours. She had come from Hatia on the outskirts of Ranchi.

An old man was heard telling his friends: "She has so many relatives but she never promotes them. She is very honest."

Another woman, Gita Kerketta, said: "I came to the town to buy something. Then I heard that Sonia Gandhi is coming here. So I stayed back. I just wanted to see her. I got a glimpse. She was very far. I don't understand speeches."

Complete Coverage: Assembly Elections 2005

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